Knowing God versus Knowing God

Aaron D'Anthony Brown

Contributing Author
Published: Feb 08, 2022
Knowing God versus Knowing God

We say that we know the Holy Spirit, but do we?

What makes someone consider themselves a Christian? The most immediate and obvious answer is faith, a belief in what exists but is not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Yet, faith in God is not the only requirement for being a Christian. We are set apart from others by a belief in Jesus Christ as well. We acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior. And in our faith, we testify that we know Him, but do we really? We say that we know the Holy Spirit, but do we?

There are many things that we know generally: math, science, communication, cooking. But there are far fewer subjects that we know with specificity. The same applies to our relationship with God. We each claim to believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and that may be true.

However, how many of us actually know God? Personally. Intimately. Deeply.

Surely there’s a difference between knowing God versus knowing God. In one sense, we “know of” God, and in the other, we “know” Him like we would a father or a friend. Much like our understanding of the world deepens when we mature from a child to an adult, the same is true about our faith when we know God.

In our eyes, He transforms from a stranger and otherworldly concept to a loving father and constant presence.

The Bible presents us with many different stories and characters, each offering unique and worthwhile lessons. What we see through continuous reading, too, is that the characters we know best are those who knew God most intimately.

Whenever someone doesn’t know God as well, we can easily spot them. There’s a reason disciples like Thomas earned the moniker “Doubting Thomas,” and despite his shortcomings, Peter is admired for his faith, especially by Catholics. Moreover, God described David this way, “I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my will” (Acts 13:22).

These men knew of God, but they also knew Him.

Is the same true about us?

What does it mean to know God?

What Does it Mean to Know God?

“Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away.” (Psalm 139:1-2)

There’s no doubt God knows plenty about us, evidenced throughout Scripture and very poetically in Psalm 139. God knowing us comes as naturally as Him creating us. He is omniscient and knows us in a way that transcends time or human comprehension. He knows what we’re doing, thinking, even before we do it.

We don’t know God in such detail, and our knowing God requires much more effort. We’re not omniscient, but rather limited to mere human faculties. Nonetheless, we can still come to know God in our own way, flawed but meaningful, still. But what does that expression even mean - knowing God.

The answer is not all that complicated. For starters, we can look to our human relationships. What does knowing our parents, significant others, or friends mean? To know someone in the most basic sense is to have a relationship with them, even superficially. But this would mean we know neighbors and coworkers in the same way. We don’t. We know different people differently.

So when we consider our deeper relationships, knowing someone means building upon our basic understanding of a person. For example, the people we call friends, we know deeply. And they also know us.

If we turn to the dictionary, we see two definitions given there as well. One denotation reads, “to be cognizant or aware of,” and the other says, “to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty.” The distinction is clear.

With time and effort, the relationship we have with God can and should be deepened and made more intimate. We may know Him or know of Him, but to know God intimately is to build upon our basic understanding. When we make our relationship with God a clear priority, that is our first love, we can truly say we don’t just know God, we know Him.

3 Steps to Know God More Intimately

1. Read Scripture

“Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are his— his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)

One way to increase our understanding of God is to read Scripture. The Bible outlines various dos and don’ts, but what we also come to discover is God’s character. There are many examples of God showing mercy, patience, forgiveness, and redemption for people we may say deserve otherwise. The various people in the Bible who encountered God also reveal to us how we can encounter the Lord today. They did not have the luxury of reading Scripture as we do, but they had ways of praying, offering sacrifice, and worshipping all the same.

2. Pray to God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jesus highlighted in His life the importance of prayer. Think of prayer as personal communication between you and God, something you can do on your knees at the foot of a bed or out loud as you drive in your car. With prayer, we can call out to God for deliverance, discernment, guidance, and wisdom in our everyday lives.

3. Talk about God

“And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Part of the danger that comes with being a Christian and separate from a community is that we can find ourselves creating an image of God that is not true. The same is true about churches or faith groups that don’t allow dissent. We grow in our understanding of God by learning more about Him through other people. Just like we read about people encountering God in the Bible, in our lives we bear witness to people encountering Him. The more we witness and the more we discuss God with others, the more we come to know.

Learn More Everyday

Though many of us reside under the umbrella of the Christian faith, not all of us believe with the same level of depth. We may say that we’re Christian, but do we understand what being Christian really means?

Or when we say that we say we know God, do we really know Him?

Our automatic answer may be yes, but everyone should take time to consider it every once in a while. If we don’t ever see room for growth, we’ll never grow.

For every human relationship that we want to continue and deepen as time goes on, we invest in. These are the same people, spouses, relatives, friends, that we can honestly say we know. We know them not in just the superficial sense that they exist. We know them personally, their likes and dislikes, hopes and fears.

Let's make the same is true about God. We get to know Him more intimately by investing time and energy into Him. We can read His word, talk to Him through prayer, and talk to other believers about Him.

The more God is a part of our lives, the more we can truly proclaim that yes, we do indeed know God.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Prisci


headshot of author Aaron BrownAaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”

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